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  • Increasing Medical Student Awareness and Education in Neurosurgery through Interest Group Participation

    Final Number:

    Krystal Lynne Tomei MD, MPH; Nitin Agarwal BS; Chirag D. Gandhi MD; Charles J. Prestigiacomo MD FACS

    Study Design:

    Subject Category:

    Meeting: Congress of Neurological Surgeons 2012 Annual Meeting

    Introduction: Neurological surgery exposure in medical school curriculum is limited, in part due to the relatively small size of our workforce. Improvement in exposure of medical students to common neurosurgical issues such as management of spinal degenerative disease, neuro-trauma, and tumors and vascular lesions of the central nervous system is important, regardless of their chosen specialty choice, to facilitate improved future interaction between specialties. Increased involvement of neurosurgical faculty and residents in preclinical and clinical curriculum has been demonstrated to improve students’ fund of knowledge on management of neurosurgical disorders.

    Methods: In 2012, our medical school formed a neurosurgery interest group which has attracted students interested in multiple disciplines. We summarize the activities of the interest group and the opportunities that the interest group has provided to the students. We include strategies for involving faculty, residents and fellows; and integration of multi-disciplinary didactics.

    Results: Our program has created new research opportunities to expose students to preparation of peer-reviewed publication manuscripts. In total, 55 students have signed up for the interest group. Weekly meetings include clinical case presentations, journal clubs and lectures by related services and have attracted an average of 29 participants. Since the inception of the interest group, 30 research projects have been initiated including poster presentations, publications and book chapters. Reasons for participating have included increasing knowledge of neurosurgical diseases, gaining exposure to a surgical field, resident shadowing, and research opportunities.

    Conclusions: Improving undergraduate medical education in neurosurgery involves a comprehensive approach. The addition of a neurosurgery interest group allows for the development of additional didactic curriculum inclusive of student-faculty interaction to educate students on neurosurgical diseases. Development of such a program should focus on mentoring opportunities with faculty and house-staff, multi-disciplinary didactic lectures and research opportunities.

    Patient Care: Medical students have limited exposure to the field of neurosurgery, despite the very common occurrences of certain neurosurgical diseases such as head and spine trauma, low back pain and headache. This results in medical students entering residency with limited knowledge on management of neurosurgical diseases. With the changing environment of medicine, increased emphasis on outcomes-based care and increasing demand on physicians’ time, it is imperative that we develop leaders in medicine as well as continue to improve collaborative efforts between disciplines. Increasing medical student exposure to neurosurgery will allow them to improve their future interaction with neurological surgery services. Utilizing a neurosurgical interest group to increase visibility of and education by a neurosurgical department not only allows for increased exposure for the purpose of recruiting future neurosurgeons, but also to add to the medical school curriculum while developing leadership skills among the members of the interest group.

    Learning Objectives: 1) Learn components of an educational curriculum for a neurosurgery interest group. 2) Learn strategies for involving faculty and residents in a neurosurgery interest group.

    References: Resnick DK. Neuroscience education of undergraduate medical students. Part I: role of neurosurgeons as educators. J Neurosurg. 2000 Apr;92(4):637-41. Resnick DK, Ramirez LF. Neuroscience education of undergraduate medical students. Part II: outcome improvement. J Neurosurg. 2000 Apr;92(4):642-5. American College of Surgeons, National Trauma Data Bank 2010 Report,, p43 (accessed 2/2011) AANS Patient Information - Low Back Pain, (accessed 2/2011) Smetana GW. The diagnostic value of historical features in primary headache syndromes: a comprehensive review. Arch Intern Med. 2000 Oct 9;160(18):2729-37

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